Counties back legal guidelines for joint projects in vast Eastern bloc

Governors Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos) and Julius Malombe (Kitui) during the inauguration of South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (SEKEB) at Machakos Governor's office on December 13, 2022. [John Muia, Standard]

It is all systems go for the South Eastern Kenya Economic Bloc (Sekeb) following the adoption of a legal framework that will see the lower Eastern counties of Machakos, Makueni and Kitui undertake mega joint projects.

Governors Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos) and Julius Malombe (Kitui) affirmed on Tuesday that their county assemblies have passed a proposed legislation for a legal framework that will anchor the establishment of a secretariat for the bloc.

The governors, who spoke after holding an inaugural meeting of the Sekeb's county chiefs, outlined development projects they committed to lobby and initiate with a view to accelerating wealth and job creation across the three counties.

Governor Ndeti who hosted her two counterparts at her Machakos White House office affirmed the leaders' commitment to fast-tracking the lobbying some of the ongoing mega development projects within the region, which she described as a critical foundation for economic transformation.

"Having been mandated by residents across the three counties to lead in the capacity of governors, we can guarantee our people in the lower Eastern region that the task you have bestowed on us to create opportunities and empower our people is firmly on course," said Wavinya.

Her sentiments were echoed by Kilonzo Jnr who hailed the second county assemblies in the three devolved governments for passing crucial laws to operationalize Sekeb.

"This is a milestone. Achieving commonality of legislation that is agreed upon across the board is not easy. Out of the seven economic blocs in Kenya, we are leading in so far as having a legal framework that will anchor the secretariat and all that we are doing in law," said Kilonzo Jnr.

The Makueni governor said the three counties were contemplating undertaking joint projects which he noted can only be implemented through the public finance management framework. Kilonzo Jnr warned institutions that discharge effluents into River Athi which have rendered the river's waters dangerous for human consumption.

"That river must be cleaned by industrialists who are polluting the river. The national government put in place a mechanism that punishes a person who destroys strategic investment and the penalty is a life sentence. I see no reason why we should not sentence to jail or close factories of people who are discharging effluents deliberately," said the Makueni governor.

Malombe said the fact that the three counties shared common interests, challenges and opportunities was a good reason to have a common approach.

Other projects the leaders highlighted included prioritisation and funding of the Konza City, improved compensation for persons whose land was taken up by the Thwake dam as well as lobbying for a green climate fund to finance climate-smart and green projects including energy, biogas and solar.

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